Round 10 Review
Let's just take a moment to reflect on the past 12 months. This time last year the game had only just returned from a 2-month layoff. All the talk was about hubs, Covid, families, fixture changes, regular testing and the lack of motivation to continue.
At Round 10, the biggest talking points are back to tribunal issues, injuries, umpiring, bad teams, good teams and an upcoming finals series. Sure, the crowds are a little down and we've had a few issues with some being a bit negative towards the game itself, but footy is in good shape compared to a year ago. Worth remembering.
Anthony Hudson's call of the Adelaide v Melbourne was absolutely first-rate. Genuine proof that the majority of the best play-by-play commentators have never played the game at the highest level: McAvaney, Commetti, Grybas, Whateley, Hudson, Papalia. Promote the callers, not the past players.
Same can be said for the analysts - that's where the past players are obviously far superior. Tastes will dictate your favourites, but the likes of King, Lyon, Matthews, Lewis, Bartel are all worth listening to. And plenty more.
Really wish people would stop pointing to injuries as an excuse/reason for a team losing without looking at the other side. Basically everyone has been hit with an injury to a few players in their best 22 this year.
Tribunal might have to pull an all-nighter this week. Hope the coffee cart at AFL house is open.
Who Won The Round?
GWS - Enormous win to pop into the eight and stay in touch in the finals race despite their challenges. The Giants are playing at a super level given their injuries and the difficulty of opposition of late. West Coast might be questionable away from home, but the Giants knew the way to get to them was to turn this into a brutal contest. Mission accomplished.
Who Lost The Round?
St Kilda - fascinating to think that only 12 matches ago the Saints beat the Bulldogs in an elimination final. Fair to say they've taken different paths since. The Saints had 14 players from that final playing on Saturday night. The Dogs had 15.
St Kilda have won 12 quarters for the year and been destroyed in four out of ten matches. Wins by 8 & 9 points and a miracle comeback against West Coast have saved them from being even further down the ladder. They won't be the last to be embarrassed by the Bulldogs, but it does confirm that last year might have been the exception in St Kilda's form.
Brisbane 102 def Richmond 74
Expected score: 94 v 64
A finals-like contest, this one. The Lions amassed an enormous 37 forward 50 entries in the first half and should arguably have been further in front. Worth mentioning a bit of context which you won't really find in most analysis of this game - A lot of those entries would be "repeat" entries, as the Tigers defence tried to get the ball out of the area only to have it launched back in.
Those figures aren't public but they do come in handy for clubs to illustrate what "type" of entries they are getting. Repeat entries can often lead to a different style of game, with the defence camped in large numbers close to their goal - the offence tends to find it far more difficult to score in that sort of density. In those cases, the usual "inside 50 efficiency" and even accuracy is skewed a little bit.
The Tigers jumped out of the blocks early with the first three goals before the Lions had even registered a shot. From there, it was eight scoring shots to three as Brisbane completely owned the territory battle.
An intense contest was just what Brisbane needed to test themselves against a quality side, albeit a little undermanned. Without a lot of Richmond's first choice midfielders, the Lions dominated contested possession and just took it from there.
Tigers are out of the eight but have a comfortable run home. Not panic stations just yet. Lions building towards another top four spot and a genuine shot at the big one this year.
Carlton 86 def Hawthorn 63
Expected score: 72 v 73
In some ways it was disappointing to see the Blues fail to really torch a struggling side. Particularly when you look at the expected score. But in other ways it was good to see them win "ugly" instead of playing end-to-end football and turning the game into an uncontested shootout.
The Blues lost the contested possession and clearance count but made the most of their chances through the middle. 15 scoring shots from stoppage chains to Hawthorn's six.
They got the job done, perhaps a little less convincing than we thought. Another great test for Carlton this week against a superior side in Sydney, but one which has had trouble scoring. The Blues would need to lift a notch but aren't without a chance.
Geelong 91 def Gold Coast 57
Expected score: 77 v 64
Another game that didn't go entirely to script - the Cats just struggled to hit targets, while the Suns just struggled to score. Crucial misses by King and Flanders late in the third quarter proved to the turning point. Heads dropped at the missed opportunity, then the Cats put the foot down with the last four goals of the quarter. Pressure numbers were abnormally high for a game between a struggling club and top four contender - 208 for the Cats, 190 for the Suns. Those sorts of figures make it no surprise it was close for such a long time.
It's a great platform for the Suns to bounce off next week against the Hawks in Darwin. The Cats will try and fix a few things before another soft matchup against a Pies team struggling to score any time other than the first quarter.
Western Bulldogs 144 def St Kilda 33
Expected score: 134 v 38
A demolition. The Saints just don't know which side will turn up each week. Their biggest problem is they don't seem to have a lot of in-form quality players knocking the door down in the VFL either. Team changes this week will be fascinating.
Every measurement in favour of the Bulldogs, including the pressure rating - 198 in a game where you win by 111 is pretty rare. It confirms the Dogs weren't just focused on running up the scoreboard, but were just as lethal at winning the ball back on defence.
Sets up beautifully for a Dogs v Demons contest on Friday night. Can't wait. Oh, and the Saints play the Roos. A slightly less enticing matchup, that one.
Fremantle 86 def Sydney 84
Expected score: 92 v 65
Typically, the game we had the least idea about the outcome became our most accurate prediction with the Dockers winning by 2 points (prediction was a single point in a genuine coin flip of a game). Look at that expected score, though - the Swans kept in it by their accuracy.
Good to see the Dockers post an 80+ score against an honest side rather than just the struggling ones. Did the wet deck favour Fremantle more than the Swans, perhaps?
Concerned about the Sydney trajectory and their offensive capabilities - they won't be saved by Buddy kicking six too often anymore, surely.
Adelaide 96 def Melbourne 95
Expected score: 80 v 95
The Demons ran into an Adelaide side at the absolute top of their game. At half time most would have still been confident in the Demons finding a way to get over the line, but with the Crows posting 192 and 221 pressure ratings in the final two terms, it all came down to a bit of luck. And perhaps a few decisions that didn't quite fall Melbourne's way.
Were they a little off defensively, the Dees? Allowing 96 points to the Crows even away from home suggests they might have been. Probably a blessing in disguise ahead of a huge clash with the Bulldogs this week - they will have learned a lot from the loss given it's their first for the year.
Crows pinched one with a huge effort out of nowhere. Expect a few more puzzling results over the next few weeks as injuries and the byes confuse things a little more.
GWS 93 def West Coast 77
Expected score: Not published
Big win for the Giants to stay in touch with the top eight. In fact, they are in it! Thought the loss of Hogan and Greene would tip the scales in favour of the Eagles, but once again they just weren't prepared to roll up the sleeves and win enough contests when it counted, or defend the uncontested mark game of the Giants in the second half.
With only 44 inside 50s, it became super hard for the potent Eagles forward line to be able to post a decent total. Up the other end the Giants found scores from unlikely sources like Green, Sproule and Flynn. Someone had to bob up without their two starting forwards, and they certainly did. A lot to like about that Giants win, for sure.
The Giants smack into Brisbane at the Gabba in a tough one, while the Eagles won't be able to take the plucky Bombers likely, even though they will start strong favourites.
Port Adelaide 59 def Collingwood 58
Expected score: 64 v 68
The blueprint for a Pies win was a low-scoring, scrappy contest. And they nearly did it. That last quarter was just an arm wrestle they couldn't quite win.
Has it signalled a bit of a turning point for the Pies, though? They had another new-look forward line with Sidebottom and Pendlebury spending more time up that end, but they couldn't hit the scoreboard like we might have expected.
Port escaped with the win to keep plugging away. They might be in their flat spot now which gives them enough time to build closer to a finals series, which is looking on the positive side. The drawback is they need to play a fair bit better to trouble the other top teams any time soon.
Essendon 141 def North Melbourne 69
Expected score: 108 v 58
The Bombers knew they had this one covered pretty early. And they shot the absolute lights out too - an expected score of 108 compared to an actual score of 141 is a significant difference.
12 individual goalkickers says it all. It was party time for most of the game for Essendon, even though they would still be concerned about coughing up 69 points to the Roos. Pressure ratings of 174 and 161 had this game looking a lot like circle work at training for most of the match.
North crashed back down to earth pretty quickly after last weekend's win. Essendon softened up for a clash with the fortunate Eagles at home this weekend. If the Dons don't tighten up through the middle and down back, the Eagles could get the game on their terms and score three figures with ease.
A Round 11 preview with 9 games to look at before the bye weeks kick in. Friday night clearly the match of the round again. Hopefully it's a ripping contest between two genuine contenders.
Check back Thursday for the full preview.